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Friday, May 27, 2022

Ziaire Williams Just Became the 2021 NBA Draft’s Hidden Gem

Ziaire Williams, a 6-foot-6 power forward from the University of Michigan, is an intriguing player to watch for the 2021 NBA Draft.

Ziaire Williams was the forgotten man of the 2019 NBA draft. A 6-foot-9 power forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, he was an afterthought by most scouts, but a two-time Arkansas Razorbacks All-American proved he had the skill to be a top-five pick. The 21-year-old entered the NBA just a week before the deadline for underclassmen to register for the draft, and the Phoenix Suns selected him 19th overall.

Ziaire Williams, a 6’10” center from Pickerington Central, Ohio, has one of the most intriguing stories regarding his NBA draft prospects. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Williams is a 6’10” center that stands 6’11” and weighs in at 220 lbs during the NBA draft combine. Williams’ has been regarded as a hidden gem throughout his high school career, but with a decent enough game to be considered a possible lottery pick in the NBA Draft, Williams’ continued to work and improve on his game and has become the most improved player in his high school career. Now, Williams is one of the best players in the 2021 NBA Draft class and a huge NBA prospect that

The first three selections in the NBA Draft in 2021 went exactly as anticipated. Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State was selected first overall by the Detroit Pistons. Jalen Green of the G League Ignite was sent to the Houston Rockets. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected USC center Evan Mobley third overall.

The Toronto Raptors selected Florida State forward Scottie Barnes with the fourth overall selection in the night. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s pick of Australia’s Josh Giddey at No. 6 was also unexpected, but the Memphis Grizzlies’ (through the New Orleans Pelicans) selection of Stanford’s 19-year-old wing Ziaire Williams was arguably the greatest surprise of the top 10.

Williams’ physical traits and star potential give him a chance to be one of the greatest players in the whole 2021 class, but why is he ranked in the top ten?

Why did Ziaire Williams go unnoticed in the lead-up to the NBA Draft in 2021?

Ziaire Williams is interviewed after being selected in the 2021 NBA Draft. After being selected by the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2021 NBA Draft, Ziaire Williams is interviewed. | Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

According to 247Sports, Williams was a five-star prospect coming out of high school and the No. 6 overall player in the 2020 class. He selected Stanford over North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, and Arizona in college basketball. His unusual choice to commit to a school renowned for academics rather than sports may have pushed him off the radar. He wasn’t even the most well-known member of his high school squad.

It doesn’t help that Williams had a disappointing one-and-done season. Williams scored only 10.7 points per game, shooting 37.4 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from three, all dismal statistics, according to Sports-Reference. He wasn’t much of a playmaker and didn’t take good care of the ball, averaging 2.9 turnovers per game to just 2.2 assists.

Despite his 6-foot-7 stature, Williams only averaged 4.6 rebounds per game.

All of these numbers are made even more impressive by the fact that Williams was obviously the Cardinals’ best player.

Looking beyond the numbers — admittedly a tiny sample size during a strange college basketball season marred by the coronavirus — Williams is the archetypal wing player today’s NBA clubs are looking for. Williams entered the draft ranked north of 6-foot-8, according to The Ringer, after growing during his lone season at Stanford. Williams possesses a smooth, fluid agility and is a great ballhandler for his stature. With better shooting, he has the potential to become a go-to scorer, but he’s also a capable distributor and facilitator.

Williams’ lanky stature makes it difficult for him to score inside. If he doesn’t gain strength, his on-ball defensive skills will suffer as well, despite the fact that his defensive IQ entering the NBA is better than most young prospects.

Williams, on the other hand, was basically created in a lab to play basketball in 2021 as a big, long, athletic wing with projectable scoring and playmaking abilities as well as the potential to be a defensive stopper. In fact, his draft scouting report is very similar to that of a two-time MVP.

Williams will be a top-five talent in the NBA Draft class of 2021.

Despite a lackluster performance in his lone college season, Williams’ physical tools remain. Because of his offensive inefficiency at Stanford and his lack of statistical performance, clubs may have pushed him down their selection boards. Williams, on the other hand, couldn’t have arrived in a better position for his growth.

Ja Morant, the franchise’s cornerstone, is a point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, have a plethora of young players who are proving themselves in the NBA. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks, both forwards, seem to be long-term starters. Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman, as well as shooting guard De’Anthony Melton, are all capable role players. Williams will be able to develop his abilities and adapt to the NBA game without being thrown into the fire right away with this core.

The Grizzlies, on the other hand, don’t have anybody like Williams. Despite his three-point shooting ability, Jackson is a forward or center rather than a wing. Clarke makes advantage of his agility around the hoop since Melton is a smaller guard. Tillman is heavier, less athletic, and larger than Williams. Brooks may be the most similar in terms of talent, but he’s shorter, less athletic, and lacks Williams’ potential.

Williams has a real potential to be one of the greatest players to emerge from the 2021 draft class, even if it is three or five years down the line.


If you’re looking for a sure-thing NBA Draft pick, you’re not going to find one. But if you’re looking for a hidden gem, a player that looks great on paper but whose skill set is still a bit of a mystery, Ziaire Williams is that guy. The 6-foot-6 Illinois State big man is a complete prospect, with a 6’11 ½ wingspan, incredible athleticism, a great motor, and solid strength. He also has a high basketball IQ, and he’s a far better passer than you think he is.. Read more about nba draft lottery and let us know what you think.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • nba draft lottery
  • nba draft projections
  • nba mock draft 2019 2 rounds
  • updated nba mock draft
  • nba draft wiki
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